India v South Africa, 1st Test, Mohali, 3rd day November 7, 2015

Wrong decisions from batsmen cost South Africa - Amla

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'Disappointing we didn't apply ourselves better' - Amla

It was not the surface or the spin but errors in decision-making and incorrect execution which, Hashim Amla explained, caused his first defeat as Test captain. South Africa were bowled out for under 200 on a slow surface twice; Amla believes they could have scored more runs had they shown better skills.

"We could have applied ourselves better," Amla said. "There were decisions we made while we were batting that were not the right decisions."

Poor shot selection cost Dean Elgar his wicket in both innings but the rest of South Africa's line-up were guilty of misreading the turn or lack thereof. Faf du Plessis was dismissed by a straight delivery in both innings, Amla left a straight ball in the second innings and AB de Villiers played on to a straight ball.

Overall, South Africa looked uncertain in their approach, even after they discussed being wary of both turn and the absence of it. "The chat we had was that the ball's not turning that much, actually," Amla said. "There were quite a few dismissals from both teams from a lack of turn rather than excessive turn."

His own dismissal in the second innings was a case in point. In the post-match television interview, he called his decision to leave the ball a "brainfreeze", and by the time the press conference came had decided he would have been far better off offering a shot. "It's a matter of playing the ball or not playing the ball. If I'd played it I probably would have hit it in the middle of the bat."

Hindsight, though, offered little consolation.

In the end, South Africa have been left with a lot of what-ifs over their batting, after their bowlers gave them the chance to pull off an upset. Amla thought 200 was "chaseable", although he would have preferred a target in the region of 160. Still, Amla believed his team could get there and even adjusted their game plan for the fourth innings.

Vernon Philander was promoted to open the batting, to provide a solid start against spin and shield the specialist batsmen for later on, when South Africa hoped the target would be within reach. "We thought we would mix it up and get a right-hander up front. Vernon has one of the most solid techniques and he has done a great job for us at No. 7, including against the new ball," Amla said. "It was a good idea if Ashwin was going to bowl. It would have panned out well for us the way Stiaan batted with Dale to come."

That Dale Steyn batted at all is a good sign for South Africa, after he was unable to bowl in the second innings having sustained a groin strain earlier in the match. Importantly for South Africa, they were able to be incisive even without a contribution from Steyn, who also went wicketless in the first innings. But, even though it did not look as though South Africa missed him, Amla said they did. "Not having Dale is a difficult one, because he is the best fast bowler in the world and in the subcontinent the most successful fast bowler," Amla said. "It is a blow not to have had Dale in the last innings, and we're certainly missing Morne Morkel."

Morkel sat out the Mohali Test after he failed a late fitness following a quad injury, but Amla is optimistic both Steyn and Morkel, and maybe even JP Duminy, who has had stitches removed from a cut on his hand, will be able to play in Bangalore. "Hopefully in the next Test JP might be fit and a few dynamics might change for our team. Dale might be fit to bowl again too."

Duminy would add depth to the batting and another option with the ball, although South Africa can be proud of the way some of their lesser bowling lights shone in this Test. Their errors with the bat aside, their spinners kept themselves in the game for three innings in entirely foreign conditions, something that earned the captain's praise.

"Throughout this Test match, even though it was such a short Test match, we managed to hold our own right into the last innings," Amla said. "They could have got away from us with about 250 or 300 in the last innings, and that would have been exceptionally difficult. The way we bowled and applied ourselves in the field was very good."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Amol on November 10, 2015, 15:39 GMT

    Some people have still a hangover of 50-over World Cup five years ago and dragging it here to compare it to a much superior format like Tests. ...And the fact is that, SA are ruling the roost in Tests for some time now.

  • Amit Khadbadkar on November 9, 2015, 16:12 GMT

    @PROTEA92 it doesnt matter wat u think.... india won world cups t20 s champion trophies dat explain all

  • John on November 9, 2015, 9:32 GMT

    Entertaining test , better than a run fest any day. Almost believable the Proteas struggled against spin , albeit not exactly a star studded line up of spinners. And then batters of the quality of du Plessis and Amla not playing a shot to balls that never threatened to turn. But a bit harder to come to terms with India being spun out by , in all fairness a fairly modest spin attack. The second innings collapse of 8/39 was quite bizarre. People mentioning Bishen Bedi in the comments , i think the great spinner and his contemparies wouldn't mind bowling to either of these sides.

  • Alex on November 9, 2015, 7:25 GMT

    It may be true but you need a team with aggressive approach in overseas tour. If you are weak and afraid to attack you will perish like in 2nd inning eventually. You need calculated attack on weaklink. For example mishra is a weaklink indian bowling. he bowl 2 floaters per over. You just have to wait for it and pounce on it. Jadeja you have to milk runs in singles. Because he bowls kinda late ball so he will sneak through if you show any attempt to attack. Just nudge jadeja move your feet to create angles. SA should have played 2nd inning like an ODI game. They just went brain freeze. It happens. learn from it.

  • IFTIKHAR on November 8, 2015, 18:29 GMT

    They way the South Africans played spin here i don't think they will win any Test matches on similar pitches.It is amazing that class players like Amla and duPlessis bat like myopics to the Indian spinners! de Villiers too seemed all at sea at times.Jadeja is a killer on these tracks but he is not impossible. It does not matter whether the SA fast bowlers and Duminy will be together again next match because India have batsmen able to deal with them on these slower pitches with less bounce than normal.Just as SA pacers are superb in SA , the Indian spinners are devasting in these dusty conditions.

  •   Madhusudhan B Mysooru on November 8, 2015, 6:04 GMT

    @sammy "The great Bedi once said that on a turning pitch, the most dangerous ball of all is the one that doesn't turn. ". That is one of very very shrewdest thing.

  • Sammy K on November 8, 2015, 1:12 GMT

    The great Bedi once said that on a turning pitch, the most dangerous ball of all is the one that doesn't turn. Both Amla and ABD - two of the world's best batsmen fell prey to str8 ones. It was just as Bedi had predicted so many years ago.

  • Kendal on November 7, 2015, 22:51 GMT

    @Ashwin Ram and Rebel: Philander, who was fourth out of fast bowlers in the all time quickest to 100 wickets list. You guys are giving yourselves away as not knowing much about cricket - just so you can insult someone who is a far better cricketer than you are or will ever be. Well done. Did you actually watch or did you just come here for cheap shots? What do you say about Ishant Sharma in Sri Lanka or Kohli's usual over the top aggression?

  • badri on November 7, 2015, 22:15 GMT

    @Brahams: wow why exactly shud kohli learn from Amla. after winning the game, he said we r batting poorly against spin. there is no big deal in being humble after losing a game. kohli was humble enuf after winning to accept chinks in the armor! that's being more mature than amla